baked oats green chile chicken enchiladas chow mein bakery-style butter cookies

copyright jennifer yu © 2004-2023 all rights reserved: no photos or content may be reproduced without prior written consent

the best half of my life

Recipe: baked chocolate doughnuts

There is a big bowl of chocolate candies sitting on our kitchen counter. We didn’t get a single trick-or-treater this year. I mean, we don’t typically get very many kids hoofing it up to our house, but we’ve had as many as a dozen on Halloweens past. It doesn’t help that it was cold and windy. I like Halloween so very much for a lot of reasons. First off, it’s a no guilt holiday (for me) that doesn’t involve obligation, travel, or cooking a massive meal. Secondly, it’s FUN and creative and also a little scary! But it’s not TOO scary because little kids are involved, and that’s good because I can pretty much handle “little kid” levels of scary. Thirdly – it is the anniversary of our first date, followed by November 1st, our smoochiversary.

20 years ago on the shores of the olympic peninsula

Jeremy and I have been together for 21 years, which is essentially half of my life… but all of my heart. He is the very best person I have ever known. And when the very best person you have ever known likes chocolate and cake and doughnuts, it’s absolutely appropriate to make chocolate cake doughnuts, don’t you think?

vanilla, brown sugar, cocoa, baking soda, salt, butter, eggs, flour, buttermilk

flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt

mix the dry ingredients together

Every time I’ve made doughnuts in the past, I have fried them. I think fried dough is one of the perks of being human. We have opposable thumbs, we can make doughnuts. But deep frying stuff is a pain in the ass unless you have a deep fryer, which I don’t want to own. A few weeks ago, I finally broke down and purchased doughnut pans. I usually cringe at the thought of acquiring such task-specific bakeware, but figured I could get some good mileage out of these pans if the baked doughnuts were a success.

adding buttermilk to the brown sugar, vanilla, eggs

whisk in melted butter

combine the wet and dry ingredients

the batter should be thick and smooth

Doughnut pans are shallow, so try to avoid the temptation to overfill them as they will rise during baking and seal over the doughnut hole. Then you’ll have baked not doughnuts, but hollow muffins or oddly shaped low-capacity bowls depending on how you look at it. I found the right amount was 2/3 full or maybe 1/4-inch below the rim. The bake time has a little leeway, but the doughnuts should be springy when you push on them. I flipped them out of the pan onto a cooling rack immediately, mostly because I needed the pans to cool so I could bake the rest of the batter.

butter or grease your doughnut pans

don’t overfill (some of these were too full)


While the doughnuts cool, you can whip up the glaze. I personally prefer a plain sugar glaze on my chocolate doughnuts, but Jeremy is a fan of the chocolaty chocolate-filled chocolate doughnut with chocolate glaze, rolled in chocolate. Ridiculous. But I thought it would be worth testing out a chocolate glaze. The glaze takes minutes to make which is just about right because the doughnuts cool pretty quickly (toroidal shapes have less heat capacity than oblate spheroids).

milk, vanilla, cocoa powder, salt (just a pinch), powdered sugar

add milk to the powdered sugar, cocoa, salt, and vanilla

mix until smooth

If the glaze develops a crust, just give it a good stir with the whisk to break it up until it is smooth. Dip the doughnuts halfway into the glaze, then set them right-side up on a cooling rack over a baking sheet to let the excess glaze drip off. Add sprinkles before the glaze sets or else the sprinkles will bounce off the glaze and roll under furniture. I found the best way to do this was to dip two or three doughnuts, then administer the sprinkles. Should you be so lucky as to have an assistant with opposable thumbs, you could just assembly line the process and dip while the assistant sprinkles.

dip with the top down

apply sprinkles liberally

stack when the glaze sets (about 15 to 20 minutes)

So, these doughnuts are not like the cake doughnuts one buys from the store or from doughnut shops. These are actually CAKE doughnuts, as in, they have the texture of a tender, moist cake. I’m not complaining, I think they’re delightful and a lot less brick-like than typical cake doughnuts. I may still try to hunt down that denser cake doughnut version, but based on the happy dance that Jeremy did after he ate two doughnuts in one sitting, this recipe is a keeper. AND there’s no pot of oil to clean up!

chocolate-glazed dark chocolate doughnuts with a cuppa

happy dance

Baked Chocolate Doughnuts
[print recipe]
from Shutterbean

butter, melted (for greasing the pans)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
6 tbsps unsalted butter, melted
2 tsps vanilla extract

chocolate glaze
from Joy the Baker

2 1/4 cups powdered sugar
6 tbsps unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 tsp salt
5-6 tbsps milk
1 1/2 tsps vanilla extract

Make the doughnuts: Preheat oven to 325°F. Brush doughnut pans with melted butter. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together. In a medium bowl, whisk the buttermilk, brown sugar, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla extract together until smooth. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry mix and combine until smooth. Fill a piping bag with the batter (or a ziploc bag – just cut the corner when you’re ready to fill the pan) and fill each doughnut ring no more than two-thirds full. Bake 13 minutes or until the top of a doughnut springs back when you press on it with your finger. Remove from oven and invert the doughnuts onto a cooling rack.

Make the chocolate glaze: Whisk the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, salt, milk, and vanilla extract together in a medium bowl until smooth. Don’t whisk too vigorously or you’ll wind up with a lot of air bubbles in your glaze. Dip the doughnuts, one at a time, into the glaze top-side down. Set the doughnuts top-side up on a cooling rack set over a baking sheet to let excess glaze drip off. Administer any sprinkles or decorations while the glaze is still wet. Let the glaze set (about 30 minutes).

Makes 20-22 doughnuts.

more goodness from the use real butter archives

apple cider doughnuts blood orange curd-filled beet doughnuts doughnuts churros

32 nibbles at “the best half of my life”

  1. irenalana says:

    Me and my husband are together for 20 years now and that is also half of my life but to be honest I hardly can remember that time before we met. Along the way we got one beautiful girl almost 7 years old and they are the most important persons for me. They are my whole world. In my country halloween is not celebrated but yesterday was another holiday for my family called Slava and for Slava we tradicionaly make a feast.
    Your doughnuts looks delicious and i will certainly make it for my family.

  2. anna @ annamayeveryday says:

    These look beyond delicious, and I love your photographs. Those sprinkles are the best I’ve seen, I can never find ones like that!

  3. Susanne says:


  4. Melissa says:

    “He is the very best person I have ever known.” Lovesomuch. xo

  5. Sumner Smith says:

    “oddly shaped low-capacity bowls” – hahahaha! Definitely going to try this, and also I totally understand finding the best half of your life. Which makes us pretty damn lucky. Happy anniversary!

  6. Miss B says:

    You are so, so very funny. I love your sense of humor. These doughnuts are beautiful, too. I am now inspired to purchase a doughnut pan, so I can make these for an upcoming family gathering.

  7. Katie @ Counter Dog says:

    “toroidal shapes have less heat capacity than oblate spheroids” – love it! Everyone keeps posting about doughnut pans but I also struggle with the idea of yet another thing in the kitchen cupboard… I’ve only used the madeleine pans twice since purchasing.

  8. Miss B says:

    I like the particular kind of sprinkles you used, but I’m having trouble locating them on the interwebs. Could you please tell me what brand they are?

  9. Anna says:

    You are a funny girl!! Please mail me one donut. Happy Anniversary!

  10. farmerpam says:

    Woo-hoo, I too fought the urge to buy those pans until I saw them in a marked down bin at a coffee shop, of all places. I’ve made pumpkin and banana buttermilk “donuts” so far. Not bad, kids liked ’em. And I don’t feel quite so guilty for the unhealthy treat. ” Smoochiversary”, how sweet, you two seem like a perfect match.

  11. selina says:

    This is so sweet (your writing might just be sweeter than those yummy looking doughnuts), Jen. Happy anniversary and “smoochiversary” (so cute!) to you and Jeremy! Wish you guys many more smooches and doughnuts in the next 21 years! xoxo

  12. Rose says:

    Happy Anniversary and Smoochiversary!

    I, too, love to make the foods my “very best person I have ever known” loves to eat–which means I eat a lot more Mexican than I would otherwise. He is not too fond of doughnuts, but I’ll be making these for another “very best person I have ever known,” a.k.a., my daughter (and, yes, I know that grammatically, you can only have one “very best person,” but what does grammar know of the heart?

  13. Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar says:

    Donuts are the perfect way to celebrate love! Great recipe :)

  14. sowmya says:

    Baked donuts are my fav… they are so moist and soft.. Looks delicious..

  15. Shweta says:

    ‘Toroidal shapes have less heat capacity than oblate spheroids’ – because of the hole in the middle ! I award you the Best Use of a Mathematical & Heat Transfer Reference in a Recipe Award ! Yay ! (Science makes me happy :)

  16. Erin | The Emerging Foodie says:

    Ok a) the Olympic Peninsula is gorgeous… go Washington! b) these donuts look so unbelievably delicious and c) tour photography is stunning! Loving this.

  17. Judie Ashford says:

    Have you ever tried to make these as cupcakes or muffins? Too dense, maybe? Do they come in chocolate ??? ;->

  18. Kristin says:

    Beautiful doughnuts, lovely sentiments, great humor. I was in my hometown over Halloween and saw lots of Trick or Treaters as I drove back to my in-laws in the evening, even though it was raining. They live in the country & had about 8 kids. Back here at home, my family had a low turnout. I think Trick or Treating must be turning into a more regional thing….more popular in some areas.

  19. Lisa says:

    As usual, we never had any kids came for the holiday candy-handout. Happy Anniversary to you and Jeremy!! Have another 42 years of happy anniversaries, dear.

  20. Abbe@This is How I Cook says:

    So i should buy a donut pan? And should i buy a popsicle pan? No, i should buy a donut pan! I’ve been avoiding this!

  21. Links for a Better Monday | says:

    […] not much to say about this, I mean…Baked Chocolate Donuts with Chocolate Glaze? Come […]

  22. jenyu says:

    Thank you for the smoochiversary wishes everyone! xoxo

    Katie – I think doughnut pans are worth it (for me) because it will probably prevent me from frying doughnuts!

    Miss B – I think they are Wilton, but they’re fruity (I didn’t know) so they look nice, but they taste a little odd :)

    selina – thanks!! xo

    Judie – I think you can make these as muffins or cupcakes, just check for doneness with a toothpick and probably bake a little longer?

  23. Kathleen says:

    We eat only organic, so I really appreciate your sharing what looks like a great recipe! I was wondering about the sprinkles, too. Anyone find non-GMO sprinkles out there that I can put on these donuts?

  24. My Favorite 10 Recipes from Other Bloggers – 2013 Edition says:

    […] Baked Chocolate Doughnuts from Use Real Butter – Jen is the author, creator and photographer at Use Real Butter. I have admired her for so many years and even more recently since she has become an even bigger part of our family life. Jen shares my sentiment that Kayla is bright, beautiful and amazing and always shows her support and love. In a world where you don’t always get people who are on your side when your child is considered different, this is an amazing blessing and Jen is a cherished friend. She is also an incredible blogger and her posts never fail to satisfy. I could go on and on and on about many posts, but the one that jumped out at me was when she posted her recipe for these doughnuts back in October. Perfection! […]

  25. Sonia says:

    Wow! Just made these and they’re perfect! Thank you!!!

  26. Ojive says:

    Would you happen know any stores in the Boulder area that sell doughnut pans? I’d love to try this recipe out, but I’d prefer to not get gouged on shipping ordering a pan online, if I can, and haven’t had much luck finding a local source so far…

  27. jenyu says:

    Ojive – You can try Target. I got mine from Target, but the one in Superior. You might also try Peppercorn although I suspect it will cost more.

  28. Ojive says:

    The downtown Boulder Target does indeed stock them-thanks for the tip off! Also, the recipe’s exactly as good as it looked-thanks for always posting such amazing stuff!

  29. Callie says:

    I buy almost everything from Amazon…I joined Amazon Prime for about $80/year and everything I am looking for is part of that club with free shipping. You also get Amazon Instant Video (like Netflix) as well. A great deal! I bought my donut pans for less that $7/ea!

  30. hiba says:

    I’d like to know if i can dissolve some sweetened yogurt in water and add instead of buttermilk cuz we cant find buttmilk in my country.. if this is ok how much wat and how many tblsp of yogurt should i mix in. Is there an altrnative for buttermilk otherwise..? I will wzit for ur reply b4 i try this yummm recipe.. pls dont make me wait too long ;)

  31. jenyu says:

    hiba – Joy the Baker has a nice post on buttermilk substitutes. Just mix up the one you want to make and measure according to the amount of buttermilk the recipe calls for:

  32. Kristen says:

    These are absolutely amazing! I made them today and it was a nice, easy recipe.

leave a reply